Ontario updates exposure limits for hazardous chemicals in the workplace

Changes for 36 hazardous chemicals take effect on July 1, 2010
|hrreporter.com|Last Updated: 01/07/2010

Ontario is updating occupational exposure limits (OELs) for 36 hazardous chemical substances, including polyvinyl chloride and ethanol.

OELs restrict workers' exposure to hazardous biological and chemical substances on the job such as those used in manufacturing and repair operations.

The changes follow consultations in 2008 and 2009 with stakeholders, including with employer and worker groups. The Ministry of Labour said it is committed to reviewing and updating OELs on a regular basis.

In addition, the government is consolidating 11 designated substance regulations into one regulation while maintaining worker protections for exposure to these substances. The consolidation will make it easier for employers to access and comply with the regulations.

All of the changes will take effect on July 1, 2010.

Quick facts about Ontario's OELs

•Ontario currently has OELs for more than 725 hazardous biological and chemical substances.

•In 2004 the province began annual reviews of Ontario's OELs. Under this review, more than 170 limits have been updated.

•OELs were first adopted into regulation in Ontario in the 1980's.

•Current limits are primarily based on standards recommended by the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH).

What is changing

Hazardous substances: Effective July 1, 2010, updates are being made to 36 substances. The changes include:

•Adding exposure limits for two new substances — butenes and polyvinyl chloride (PVC)

•Revising limits or information listings for 23 substances

•Withdrawing specific exposure limits for 11 substances that will be regulated either under a different substance or calculation method or because the ACGIH found a lack of information to support an OEL.

•The existing limits for two other substances included in the 2009 consultation — beryllium and sulphur dioxide — will be maintained pending further consultation and review.

Consolidating regulations: Eleven of 12 stand-alone designated substance regulations are being consolidated into one designated substances regulation.  Regulation 278/05, Asbestos on Construction Projects and in Buildings and Repair Operations was not consolidated.  This will make compliance easier for employers who will now be able to consult two regulations instead of 12

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